Growth Newsletter #077
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This week we're covering virality, content upgrades, and SaaS conversion.
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This week's Insights
The six principles behind social sharing
Insight from Jonah Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch On.
As you create a product, service, or piece of content that you want to go viral, carefully consider why someone would share it.
Jonah Berger, a professor at Wharton, conducted rigorous research to figure out why people share. Here are the six reasons he found (with examples of each):
1. Social currency: “We share things that make us look good.”
- We all seek social approval. It’s human nature. So we share things that we think will boost others’ perception of us.
- Example: When the founder of SmartBargains.com launched a new site, Rue La La, he made it invitation-only. It sold the same products as Smart Bargains. But because consumers now felt like insiders—a badge of social currency—they bought a lot more.
2. Triggers: “Top of mind, tip of tongue.”
- We share and talk about things we come across. Which is why people discuss things they see regularly (like Cheerios) more than things that are less visible in their everyday lives (like Disney World).
- Example: The most inescapable song of 2011, Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” peaked in daily searches every Friday after it came out.
3. Emotion: “When we care, we share.”
- We share things that make us emotional. Things that elicit high-arousal positive emotions (awe, excitement, and amusement) and negative emotions (anger and anxiety).
- Examples: Basically, everything on Upworthy.
4. Public visibility: “Built to show, built to grow.”
- We imitate things we see. We’ll go to the food truck with the long line and sign up for the email service we see others using (AOL, then Hotmail, then Gmail).
- Example: The Apple logo is upside down on a closed MacBook. But it’s right side up when the MacBook is open—say, at a coffee shop where others are working nearby. That’s solid public branding.
5. Practical value: “News you can use.”
- We share useful information. Passing along helpful tips, tutorials, guidance, etc., strengthens social bonds.
- Examples: #lifehacks viral videos on TikTok, Brené Brown TED Talks
6. Stories: “Information travels under the guise of idle chatter.”
- Berger explains that “people don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives.” Which is why Aesop didn’t just say the words, “Don’t give up.” Instead, he told a story about a slow-yet-persevering tortoise who ended up winning a race.
- Example: Unboxing videos are a type of story. As psychologist Pamela Rutledge puts it, each is “a mini-three act play with an exposition (presenting the box), rising action and conflict (what is it? can I get the box open? will I like it?) and resolution or denouement (showing what’s in the box).”
For more on virality, check out our complete guide to organic viral marketing.
The PDF opportunity: How to rank for high-intent content upgrades
Insight from SEO Blueprint.
Marketers know PDF content upgrades are a potential game changer for the conversion rate of a blog. PDF keywords, on the other hand, are a surprisingly overlooked content opportunity.
No matter what niche you’re in, there's a good chance people are looking for PDFs related to the product or service you sell. Consider the following keyword examples:
Search volumes may be low, but so is the competition. What's more, search intent is crystal clear. Searchers have problems and they're looking for solutions—PDF resources about their specific dilemma.
To find relevant PDF keyword opportunities in your space:
- Search for the keyword "PDF" in Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer.
- Exclude modifiers suggesting the searcher is looking for a software solution, not information (e.g., convert, merge, compress, save, turn, combine).
- Include keyword modifiers related to your niche (e.g., keto, trading, social media marketing).
- Scan the results for relevant PDF keywords you can create content for.
Once you have your keyword(s), create a landing page or blog post on the topic and offer a PDF bonus in exchange for an email address. The bonus can be a unique asset (e.g., checklist, cheat sheet, guide) or a nice-looking PDF version of the original content. Experiment and see what works.
Content upgrades have the potential to lift conversions as much as 500%—possibly more.
And if you can rank for those assets, you’ll have yourself a self-perpetuating traffic and conversion machine.
Optimize your SaaS site to show off your product’s UI
Insight from Baymard.
More than a third of SaaS websites don’t show enough of their product’s user interface (UI), according to research from Baymard.
Why this matters: Without a visual representation of your UI, people don’t feel like they know enough about your product. So even if your site has text describing how your software works, they won’t necessarily feel confident about moving forward.
That’s because, according to research, users most value UI representations in the form of images, GIFs, videos, and demos. Take note—we listed those in descending order of importance. Images come first.
Why not videos?
Videos take longer to load and require more user effort. (Users first need to decide to watch a video, then click “play” and adjust their audio volume.) In other words, a video is a lot more demanding than a screenshot. The same goes for demos, which feel like extra commitment compared to images and GIFs.
This is actually good news for optimizing your SaaS site, since creating images requires less effort. Here are five tips for better representing your product:
- Prioritize showing images of your product’s UI. Take screenshots of key screens, like your main dashboard and most important product features. Example: Clearscope displays a screenshot of its text optimizer on its homepage.
- Show more concrete images of your product than abstract ones. Abstract graphics show only an interpretation of your product. The online counseling platform BetterHelp could do better here. Instead of using abstract illustrations, it could show its app’s scheduling and messaging functions, plus other features.
- If you do use videos, make them short and loop them. The idea is to make your videos mimic GIFs, which often sacrifice image quality. Take a look at the looping six-second video on HelpDesk’s homepage for some inspiration.
- Make sure non-looped videos load quickly and have scrubbing previews. This is best for longer video walkthroughs with audio. Scrubbing previews show what’ll happen in a video when you move your cursor across a video’s timeline—they give users an idea of what to expect.
- If your demos are self-guided, make that clear. A CTA button that says “Try a demo” feels much more inviting and low-effort than one that says “Book a demo.”
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— Neal & Justin, and the DC team.